The 8 June United Kingdom general election has—if it was possible—resulted in more indecision, confusion and requirement for sound, dispassionate, learned heads at hotel companies. May egotism be banished.
I don’t think anyone is reading my blogs because they’re undecided as who to vote for and seeks illumination at my hands, but, still, suffice to say, I’m careful not to be politically insensitive.
Although many suspect the United Kingdom might see another election before the end of the year—the U.K.’s political landscape now appearing rather like Italy’s in the first half of the 1990s—the 2017 election is over. Here’s a dispassionate synopsis of the carnage it has left and what it might mean for the hotel industry.
In a nutshell, more uncertainty, the need for far less egotism and the worry or comfort that things appear as though they are carrying on as though nothing has happened.
Hoteliers are facing more uncertainty, of that we are certain, as the world’s now most oft-used cliché goes.
The only thing we can expect is the unexpected, and that certainly came true in the election. No one predicted Prime Minister Theresa May’s incumbent government would have actually lost 13 constituencies, even though the Conservatives won a larger share of the popular vote, 42.4%. The Labour Party won 40% of the popular vote and gained 30 constituencies.
May was seeking a mandate for upcoming Brexit negotiations, which would have been strengthened if she won re-election.
But what of business credentials stemming from this? In the last three months, London has experienced three hideous terrorist attacks, this stunning election result and an exchange rate of the pound sterling that has dipped and fluctuated all over the shop. Yet the stock market hardly blinked at the elections and tourists continue to stream in.
The reason London did not react was that it rather liked the likely softening of any stance on Brexit.
Hotels can continue strategies based on high occupancy and decent average daily rate. London seems almost totally impervious to knocks. That cannot be totally true, but to have its course altered might take an incident I hope we never see.
One lesson I think we all can learn from this election is that egotism should never get in the way of informed, rational decisions.
After countless occasions when May said she would not call an early general election (she had to announce one in 2020), she decided to hold one anyway upon seeing personal ratings she deemed were favorable to her.
Post-election, many critics suggested voters thought they were being used in a game pointing more at personal votes of confidence than at the issues of concern, such as the National Health Service, austerity and, indeed, Brexit.
The Labour Party had also shown arrogance during its recent internal election, when the establishment end of the party, in my opinion, patronized members by saying they wished all the strands of the party be involved. They didn’t believe for an instant that grass-roots support would engineer a victory for a candidate from—at least then—the very fringes of the party.
The moral is that when all seems good and hunky dory, do not think success generates only from you. Step back, look around, analyze, discuss and seek advice. And listen to that advice.
The government should have listened to now mildly legendary Brenda from Bristol. Did it? No, it didn’t.
Stand as you were
In the 10 days since the election results were announced, the U.K. has appeared to go on much as before.
The same Prime Minister is in place, although her power lies in doing a deal with the 10 members of Parliament representing Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.
Political commentators say cooperation comes with a multitude of concerns, chiefly Northern Irish voters who were worried a tougher U.K. stance on Brexit might have led to a hard border being re-imposed between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic to its south.
Most people now believe Brexit will be softer, as May has far less clout in passing bills through Parliament than she did before the election.
The British Hospitality Association, meanwhile, has celebrated the re-appointment of Tracey Crouch as parliamentary under-secretary of state for sport, tourism and heritage at the department for culture, media and sport, which is where tourism and hospitality matters are somewhere buried.
Crouch had to win her own constituency, of course.
That does not mean long-held demands such as dropping the 20% value-added tax rate from hotels and other attractions are any nearer to being resolved.
We live in uncertain times where hotel boards need to be more certain.
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